In our previous blog posts, we talked about Don’t of CVs and redundant information that doesn’t add much value to your CV. We have received many questions from job seekers, asking us to elaborate on the structure or format of a good CV. In simple words, the different elements that are needed in a CV. For those who have not written a CV before, this will be a good article to start with because it will lay the foundation of the basic layout of a CV. However, this article is also important for those who have been writing CVs for some time now, because they might be able to learn a thing or two about the subject.
The basic CV format includes the following.
1. Personal Details
It is conventional to start your CV with your personal details. Write your legal name and not you a.k.a. Include your email address and follow the practice of using a professional email address that includes your names. This could be the first name followed by the surname or with a separator in the middle. Don’t forget to include your phone number so it can be easy for the recruiter to reach out to you in case they want to take your application further. Like we touched in the previous post, don’t include unwanted personal information like your tribe, number of children, etc.
2. Career History
Talk about your work experience in this part, starting with the most recent position. Arranging your career history chronologically enables the recruiter to follow the journey you have taken in your career. Remember to include your job title, the period of employment, and the company name. Don’t waste the space elaborating on your responsibilities but spend more time to accentuate your achievements. If a recruiter is looking for a Marketing Officer, the chances are that they know what a Marketing Officer does. To talk about your achievements, use numbers, percentages, skills learned, etc.
If you have done some internships and you want to include them in your CV, indicate clearly that they are internships.
3. Education & Training
There are those who put the Education section before Employment History, and there are those who put it after. It doesn’t matter that much. What is important is to include the education level obtained, the period of studies and the university name. Like we saw in the previous article, don’t include the modules of your degree program. Again, the recruiter knows what a bachelor’s degree in Finance entails. Format this section chronologically starting with the most recent education level obtained. Should you include your CGPA? This is a challenging question to answer because it is a “yes” and “no”. Some of the Employers might want to see it and they will ask for it in the job advert. If asked include it, but if not leave it out.
It is not just education from colleges or universities. Include training courses you have attended that you have received certification. It is understood that on and off-job training opportunities are also important in shaping the skills of a job applicant.
For different professions, there are certified bodies. It could be PMP or CAPM for project managers. It could be a CPA or ACCA for finance professionals. If you have joined any professional bodies, include them in your in this section of your CV.
Many positions require certain skills. It could be graphic designing for Marketers, CRM for Sales, Human Resource Management Systems for HR. Skills could also mean the different languages that you speak that could add a competitive advantage to your profile. Remember to include the skills that you can vouch for either through certifications or reputable recommendations. Skills are important because they show that you have learned something more above what you learned in school. Include skills that are related to the position you are applying for.
This is one of the sections that is filled with so much ease that it ends up reading like a bad novella. What are hobbies to include in your CV? Well, include something interesting about yourself that opens the door for your future employer to get to know you. You can put gardening, listening to music and the like, but remember everyone fills those things and they can be uninteresting. Make your hobbies interesting to read. Don’t make them so archaic that one doesn’t even recognize them anymore. Employers want someone who is well-rounded and who display a strong work-life balance. Show it here.
In Tanzania, many applicants include their reference list at the end of their CVs. This is a conventional practice that allows the recruiter to see whom they can contact to vouch for you. In other countries, especially in Europe and the U.S., there is a practice of saying “references upon request”. The reason is that you don’t want to be showing off the contact information of your referees to everyone. Imagine having a very famous entrepreneur as your referee. You might not want to reveal her phone or email address because these details could be used unprofessionally. In Tanzania, there are candidates who are bold enough not to include the referees directly. Some of them have many years of experience and others are starting out. You will have to make the decision on whether you want to include your references or not.